Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio really pissed me off today. He went on a rant about his problems with the hockey media. Here, have a listen!
In response I decided to send him a scathing, angry letter.
Dear Mr. Cowherd,
I am thoroughly insulted by your comments on hockey writers and their supposed mediocrity. In your comments, you say that media members who cover hockey are amateurish, young, and basically barely know what they are doing. Well, while I may not be a member of the sports media, I feel it is my duty as not only a hockey fan but a sports fan to inform you that you are absolutely wrong in your assumptions.
First of all, by speaking the way you did, you insulted some long-standing members of the sports media as well as some of your colleagues. Most well-respected hockey writers are not particularly young or just out of college. Just about every article, column, even blog post I’ve read is written by someone with years and years of experience doing their job: Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated, Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports, Kevin Allen of USA Today, Jeff Klein of the New York Times, Sarah Baicker of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, the list goes on. That is not even to mention your brilliant colleagues at ESPN, Pierre LeBrun, Craig Custance, and John Buccigross. ESPN may not be a hub for hockey news like its Canadian counterpart, TSN, but those men that I just mentioned have written some wonderful and insightful pieces about the National Hockey League for your employer. They are the farthest thing from amateurs.
This brings me to my next point: perhaps the reason why newspapers and networks may not send their top-tier journalists to cover hockey is because ESPN, the supposed “World Leader in Sports,” does not bother to cover hockey much of the time. The NHL is one of the four major leagues in North America and ESPN barely acknowledges it until the Stanley Cup Playoffs role around. Hockey does not receive as much attention by most sports new outlets, whether it be magazines or newspapers, because the network you work for does not give it the attention it so rightfully deserves. What ESPN fails to realize is that, while hockey does not have the popularity that football has in the U.S., it has a passionate following. ESPN just fails to acknowledge it. There are a few theories behind this, whether it be the competition that NBC has with ABC (and thus ESPN) or the fact that it does not generate as much revenue as other major leagues. Just because you, as self-proclaimed non hockey guy, don’t pay attention to the fan bases, does not mean they don’t exist. It seems ESPN is in the same mindset as you.
My third gripe with your diatribe is the fact that you’re criticizing the NHL for having young writers. You as a member of the media should be promoting young, aspiring journalists to follow their chosen path. Whether or not your theories about the hockey media are unfounded, the mere mention of you disapproving of young adults trying to make a career of the profession that has given you your livelihood is atrocious. You should be ashamed. Yes, sometimes questions may not be of the highest quality. Yes, sometimes they may stutter or trip over their words. But the only way to learn and improve is to gain experience; the only way to do that is to be thrown into a situation where you have to use and practice the skills that make you successful. Not to mention that you, a non hockey guy, are criticizing the questions that are being asked. Any questions asked in media scrums over an entire season are bound to become repetitive. This is true in any sport. Calling them “stupid” is just plain unprofessional of you. Also, John Tortorella is notorious for giving the media a tough time. To blast the media in his most recent scrum when he gave one sentence answers is a terrible instance to cite. If you want to look for more honest and forthcoming meetings, you need only to look to coaches such as Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks or Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers.
I hope that next time before you decide to sound off on something like this, you do a little more research. You’re very lucky to be able to have a career talking about something that you love. Bashing others who are doing the same does not reflect well on yourself or ESPN.